Center for Strategic Assessment and forecasts

Autonomous non-profit organization

Home / Defence and security / / Articles
The main factors influencing the stability of the Middle East in modern conditions
Material posted: Publication date: 14-11-2014

The article examines the main factors influencing stability in the Middle East region in modern conditions, namely the geopolitical interests of the leading countries in the region, particularly U.S. policy; the activities of religious-extremist movements and terrorist groups in the region; the incident of socio-political conflicts in the Middle East, the so-called "Arab spring" which led to the change of political regimes in the countries of the region and pretransformation geopolitical situation.

In the study of problems of stability and security, focuses on global issues. This is understandable, since the new threats are global in scale and require global interaction of States, to effectively counter them. Review of international stability and security in the global unity of the world, is justified. But when excessive exaltation of this approach, remain in the shadows, smaller, but very important regional security issues.

Problems of international stability and security, is increasingly reflected in various regions of the world, but their manifestation in various regions are not the same. On regional processes okazyvaetsia the impact of projected externally, the policy of the leading powers. At the same time, in a particular region, particular importance are local problems, mainly, exclusively specific to the region.[1]
The solution of tasks on ensuring regional stability and security in modern conditions, is unlikely to be feasible without a comprehensive assessment of fundamental factors influencing the geopolitical situation in the region, as in the current-time and in the foreseeable future.

"Factor" is defined as a cause, the driving force of any process, phenomenon that determines the nature and source of exposure for a particular object, as well as providing a certain value in its operation. In these particular circumstances it is of particular research interest, as fully applicable to the analysis of the stability of the situation in the middle East.

Because of its location, the region of the Middle East is an important geopolitical space. In turn, the condition of the stability of the region is affected by a number of factors,of which the most basic are the following factors:

  1. Geopolitical interests of the leading countries in the region;
  2. The activity of religious-extremist movements and terrorist groups in the region;
  3. Ongoing socio-political conflicts in the Middle East.

One of the growth drivers of conflict in the region is rapidly growing outside interference in internal politics of countries in the region.

At the present time in the struggle for influence in the middle East the interests of many States, however, the interests of the United States, because of the nature of the impact and specificity of the applied methods clearly dominate.

The U.S. and its NATO allies are showing their interest, based on the need and development of far-reaching plans related to ensuring access to the oil resources of the region, obtaining support base for the implementation of their global interests and preparations for the possible transformation of the region's States into a single "greater middle East".

After the end of the cold war the US leadership sought to consolidate its presence in the middle East, while expanding its influence in Central Asia. According to the Director of the "Council on the Middle East", American Institute of foreign policy studies Garfinkle A., "what United States is doing in this part of the world, especially in the Persian Gulf, can be defined as "Imperial policy": Washington intends to achieve stabilization in the region, even if they have to use force. The middle East is the only region in the world after cold war US military power never ceases to grow, this is illustrated by the Central Command and the creation of the 5th fleet of the Indian Navy, to patrol the Persian Gulf. Many States in the region are effectively American protectorates".[2]

The American military operation in Iraq in 2003 was the logical continuation of this policy. But, along with geopolitical considerations, there were ideological ambitions. The Russian scholar E. P. Smirnov noted that, "having chosen Iraq as a starting point, "the neoconservatives" were first introduced in the USA politicheskoye the so-called doctrine of "regime change" and "democratic revolutions" in the middle East".[3]

American military and political leadership, as reasons for the destabilization of this vast region, as non-state factors, mostly considered terrorist groups and international organized crime. So, for example, speaking to the Senate Committee on armed services in April 2009, then-commander of Central command, General D. Petraeus said that, "the Most serious threat to the interests of the United States, its allies in the area of responsibility of CENTCOM, comes from transnational extremists, hostile States, and weapons of mass destruction". [4]
In its foreign policy the United States, and active in relation to events in Syria. The Obama administration, bowing to the direct assistance of the government of the Syrian opposition, spoke about the change in policy toward a more aggressive plan for displacement or forced the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.However, the US did not anticipate that in the obstinate conflict and making inhe obvious foreign threats, Russia will go on urgent, unscheduled deliveries of weapons and military equipment, as well as the temporary redeployment of Russian troops, ignoring the indignation of the neighbors of Syria. That is why the USA has been evaluated by the strengthening of the Syrian defence against external aggression as serious, clearly hoping to forestall this deployment.

Another factor affecting the state of stability in the Middle East is the extremist and terrorist organizations. At the beginning of the 90s, there were more than 15 major terrorist organizations, of which the most well-known organizations such as:

"Al-Gama'a al-Islamiya". The largest extremist organization in Egypt, operating since the late 70-ies. Thousands of religious fanatics, has many supporters in the South and large cities. Has offices in the UK, Afghanistan and Austria, as well as cells in many other States. According to experts, has the support of Iranian, Sudanese and Afghan extremist groups.

Hamas (Islamic resistance movement). Founded in late 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the organization "Muslim brotherhood". The exact number of members unknown, has tens of thousands of supporters. Enjoys the support of the Palestinian Diaspora, the Iran, some religious leaders in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

Hezbollah ("Party of Allah", aka "Islamic justice Organization", "Followers of the prophet Muhammad"). Established in Lebanon in 1982 - a radical Shiite group, which headquarters is located in Lebanon. Includes up to 3 thousand members. Enjoys the support of Iran and Syria. Its cells are available in many countries.

"The Kurdistan workers 'party". Founded in 1974. The ideology is based on Marxist principles. Consists of 10 to 15 thousand members. Enjoys the support of the Turkish Kurds and the Kurdish Diaspora in Europe, as well as, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

"Palestinian Islamic Jihad" (also known as the "Group Sakaki", "Group Ubu Guname"). Created in the 70-ies. The number is unknown. Most bases are located in Syria and has branches in Cyprus, England, Germany, USA. Financial support is provided by Iran and Syria.

"Popular front for the liberation of Palestine - General command". Split from the PFLP (popular front for the liberation of Palestine) in 1968. Consists of several hundred militants. The headquarters is in Damascus (Syria), base in Lebanon. Has offices in several European countries. Military support to Syria, financial - Iran.

"Al-Qaeda" (aka "international Islamic front for Jihad against Jews and Christians", "Islamic army for the liberation of Muslim Holy places", "Network of Osama bin Laden"). Established in 1988 by Osama bin Laden. Objective - "to establish the Muslim state" throughout the world. Has a few thousand fighters. Maintains ties with other extremist groups. The headquarters is located in Afghanistan.

Currently a major factor in the rising tensions in the region have ongoing socio-political conflicts and crises in the Middle East.

As practice shows, socio-political conflicts in various countries arise between social groups, institutions, organizations because of opposing political interests, the subject of which are political benefits – access to power and resources, the status, privileges, etc.

In their nature, socio-political conflicts involve large groups of people, covering the main levels of the formational structure of society (ideological, political, economic). In these conflicts is the fight between large social groups for power, but not just for power, and for power in society and state. In turn, socio-political conflicts can manifest themselves in the electoral process, political demonstrations, armed uprisings, political upheavals, which ultimately impact on the political security of the country. The result or outcome of such conflict may be changing the ruling class or political elite, policy (goals and plans) of the country.[5]

In this regard the Arab world as a whole, the middle East and North Africa in particular, are perceived as a zone of instability, where always may be war, a bloody conflict, and other shocks. In this respect, revolutions and popular uprisings of 2010-2011, dubbed the "Arab spring", fit the history of the tumultuous events of the region. Nevertheless the socio-political crisis that can be traced to contemporary events in the Middle East conflict objectively formed the course of their historical development under the influence of several internal and external factors that require more detailed analysis.
External political factors of the Arab spring. According to the American analyst Victor Yassman, regarding the events in Egypt and growing unrest throughout the middle East there is no shortage of conspiracy theories. Almost all analysts, as an external influence see "the machinations of the US", but their opinions differ greatly in the definition of their motives, and most importantly, opportunities to influence the situation.[6]

Some researchers say that the U.S. is its long-standing support of authoritarian regimes and ignoring the pressing problems of the region themselves brought the matter to boiling point. This is especially true of Egypt, where the army, the native from which was Mubarak and all his predecessors, was a direct instrument of American influence. Meanwhile it became increasingly evident that the ongoing support of the Americans and Israelis of the Mubarak regime only intensified anti-American sentiment in the country, strengthening the position of "Muslim brotherhood", and most importantly, were not allowed to solve any internal contradictions, nor the middle East conflict.

Other scholars, conversely, argue that the administration of Barack Obama after his speech at Cairo University in 2009, where he promised to support democracy and change in the Arab world, has become too quick to "surrender" trusted allies in favor of Pro-Western liberals, civil rights activists and a network of youth groups that have no support on the Arab street. As a result of the us position even more weak, even among old Pro-American elites, leading to anarchy and, again, opens the way for the Islamists.
The third group of political scientists and policymakers, mainly in Russia, believes that the U.S., faced with insurmountable global problems and economic issues, especially "set fire" to the middle East to sow it "- organized (or controlled) chaos" in the hope to weaken China and the EU. The proponents of this theory they call the middle East home "gas station" of the planet, providing the American political and economic control in the world. Such a "passionate" theory gives poor knowledge of American psychology. To retreat, blowing up the bridges behind them and burning a city, it is a tactic from another era and another civilisation America is a trade Empire, it has traditionally preferred to negotiate or buy, especially when they lack power to insist on.[7]

Fourth, the "flame of revolution" swept the North African States in turn, strictly in a certain order, which is also suggestive: for example, in the nature of a forest or Prairie fire is spreading circular wave, capturing all the adjacent territory, of course, if it had not specifically directs in the right direction. Here there is a clear selectivity: Tunisia-Egypt-Libya-Syria-Bahrain-Yemen etc this left Algeria, Morocco and other African countries with similar social issues and characterized by the same "conservative" political regimes.

Thus the sequence of following "flashing" of countries in a controlled chain reaction is strictly adhered to: after initiating the pulse awakens not the position of civil society, suppressed another authoritarian regime, as "homework" political consultants who prepared this "revolution" for a long time and have introduced the appropriate ideology in the mass consciousness of the population. But in each country these "blanks".[8]

Finally, in all the "revolutions" in Northern Africa is alarming absence, a mandatory component of any revolution - revolutionary ideology. The basis of the revolutionary struggle of true revolutionaries - idealists: are either high ideals (liberty, equality, fraternity, justice), or the idea of national liberation movements. Meanwhile, nothing similar in the Arab "revolutions" is not in sight: there is a disparate protest movement, which quickly turns into "political crowd", whose main goal is to overthrow the current legitimate government in the face of its concrete representatives, on the one hand, and pogroms on the other. The "revolutionary" crowd does not put forward any alternative political programme: the people's anger is purely personal nature and has nothing against the political system. The goal of this revolution is to ensure that to thoroughly "warmed up" by the wave of popular anger came to power new people who perhaps are no better than the previous, but have a romantic area of the "revolutionaries". With this area, these people may not have known neither the past nor the merits before the country, and generally emerge from the political chaos at the last moment. For any world leaders whose interests lie in this region, this moment is the best to bring to power his henchmen.[9]

Social factors socio-political conflicts in the Middle East. A significant factor is socio-demographic characteristics of the Arab countries. In most of them to 50% of the population are young people under the age of 35 years — they are the first to suffer from unresolved socio-economic problems. Unemployment in this age group reaches 50%, and work are not primarily graduates, especially Humanities. Most of all this is true for Tunisia and Egypt. Young University graduates are forced to engage in small-scale wholesale trade and small business; without a decent income, they often lack the opportunity to create a family, with family values in society arabmuslim quoted very high.

A kind of spark that kindled the flame of the Tunisian social unrest, was the self-immolation of a representative of this part of youth. Later attempts of self-immolation of young unemployed people have been taken in other Arab countries: Egypt unemployed young person tried to burn himself in front of the Parliament building. For this population the most common growth of civic consciousness and the desire for democratic freedoms, European influence, and the role played by modern electronic media in Arab countries are quite advanced satellite television and the Internet cafes that are cheap and affordable for all segments of the population.[10]

In countries such as Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, for reasons of socio-economic nature are superimposed on the specifics of domestic politics. In Yemen it is the actions of rebel Shiite factions asevere the country, a separatist movement in the South and a significant influence of the Islamists (the presence of underground cells of al-Qaeda). In Bahrain is sectarian confrontation between the Sunni minority (headed withthe ruling dynasty of al-Khalifa) struggling for equal rights with the Sunnis the Shiite majority. In Libya, the discontent usurping vlasnicima Gaddafi and close to her clan, inter-clan and inter-tribal rivalry, the actions of Sufi tariqas and Islamic groups.

Spiritual (Islamic) factor of the "Arab spring". One of the features of socio-political crises of 2011 were godeschal minor role of Islamist political forces and structures that have been integral to public-politicheskaia in the region. In almost none of the crisis processes affected countries, they have not taken a Central or leading position moving. You cannot talk about about their ideological hegemony. In rateslocated Islamists joined the mass movement on pozdnysheva its development and at certain times been willing to compromise with the authorities.

In General, the movement did not wear a religious nature, an example of Cegetel, in particular, mass protest actions in Iraq, divided along religious and confessional lines - they took place almost in all parts of the country, without distinction of the confessional group to which belongs the majority of the population of this region.

The first is associated with a certain degree of disappointment at the outcome of the ideological hegemony of Islamist forces in the opposition movements in the middle East. Ideological and political Arsenal of the Islamists were powerless in the face of challenges facing States in the region, first of all, they failed to suggest ways out of the impasse of dependent development. It should be noted that in the 1950-60s, the Islamist forces were pushed to the periphery of the political process, and the Central place it occupied modernization, secular forces. Strengthening the position of Islamists in the 1970-80s, was due primarily to the failure of modernization efforts which had resulted in the reproduction of dependency. Then were important and policy of the ruling circles of some middle Eastern countries, who often used the Islamists as a counterbalance to leftist forces.

However, the Islamists have failed as an effective medium of alternative models of development, although in 1990-2000е, they occupied a Central place in opposition to the ruling classes and had amassed a considerable part of protest potential.

The reasons for this lie primarily in the limited capacity of ideological Islamists. The deadlock of dependent development they offered due to the movement back to the origins of Islam, which in itself was historically doomed direction, which was primarily the response among the petty bourgeoisie, shocked by the scale and rapidity of social and economic shifts in the Arab countries.
Secondly, it should be noted the heterogeneity, the differentiation of Islamist forces in the different Arab countries zavisimosti their ascent.[11]

Yet in most middle Eastern States, Islamist forces belong to the Sunni branch of Islam, they at different times have often collaborated and interacted with by the ruling classes against the left forces (Egypt, Yemen). Currently ruling regimes of almost all countries of the region recognize the importance of Islam emphasize their religiosity, integrate its components in power system. The combination of these factors predetermined the temporary nature of the monopoly of Islamists on the opposition in the region. At the same time, Islam as a factor of political life certainly continues to retain its importance, but the role and importance of the Islamist forces will undoubtedly undergo adjustments.


Thus, in the struggle for influence in the middle East the interests of many States, however, the geopolitical interests of the United States, because of the global scale and nature of the impact, clearly predominate.

The presence of large hydrocarbon resources in the region are conducive to an active policy of the leading countries in access to and control over these strategic resources. In this region there are large military acts of the USA, designed to ensure strategic interests.

Threats to regional stability continues to be preserved from religious-extremist organizations. At the same time, the growth of religious extremism in the region contributes to the existence of problems related to socio-economic conditions, mass unemployment, falling standards of living of the population, allowing religious organizations quite effectively to promote and expand the social base of its supporters. This socio-political crises in the Arab world have both internal and international dimension, as common roots and national identity due to historical peculiarities of each country.


Capcom A.


A list of sources used

  1. Arutyunov D. the Origins and future of the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa,
  2. B. debt "Explosion" in the Arab world: internal and external context// Prospects,
  3. Ganiev T. A. the Theory of national and regional security. Monograph - M.: WU, 2014.
  4. Society in the context of global and regional instability // Materials of scientific conference. - M.:WU 2014.
  5. Manoilo A.V. Revolution in the middle East and North Africa: political pragmatism and technology of controlled chaos.
  6. Yasman, V. a paradigm Shift in the middle East?
  7. A. Garfinkle Agenda 2000. The U.S. Imperial Postulate in the Mideast. - Orbis. - Winter 1997, Vol. 41, N. l.
  8. Statement Of General David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army Commander U.S. Central Command Before The Senate Armed Services Committee On The Afghanistan-Pakistan Strategic Review And The Posture Of U.S. Central Command. 01 Apr 2009.

RELATED MATERIALS: Defence and security
Возрастное ограничение